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What advice would YOU receive from Future YOU?

January 2047

Dear Chani,

I see you starting this year, wondering what is in store. You’re still in the middle of a pandemic, though restrictions are loosening. It was a rough ride for you, I know. I still remember that gut wrenching realization of the world spiraling out of control. I will tell you this: As I’m writing this in 2047, I don’t really remember much about the pandemic other than it was hard. At the time, it seemed never-ending. It shaped the next couple of decades in unexpected ways. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk to you. Just me and you. I am you, just a few years ahead.

42 was a pivotal year for us. I know you’re approaching the year with grand expectations for change and resolutions to be kept. I’m still a list-maker. Every year, I jot down dozens of goals for a fresh start. Looking back, some of those list items lessened in importance and I should have spent less time obsessing about how people perceived me. I’ll tell you what stuck:

I suppose you can say that I am a spiritual giant. Stalwart. I bask in connecting with God and feeling a closeness with Him. When He needs me, I listen and I act, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. That’s the relationship that we have. I didn’t decide one New Year’s to lock myself in a room, forget all responsibilities, and immerse myself in scripture. That was never an option. But I knew that to build a connection with God, I had to make time for Him. I added His time to my calendar, just like all the rest of my family members. Each day, especially when the boys were younger, that looked a little different. Sometimes I snuck in a quick prayer on the exercise bike or in the car. Sometimes, my head was already on the pillow. Other days, I had full, uninterrupted study time during school hours. Those all added up. The closer I felt to God, the more it bothered me when I couldn’t feel that connection. I worked hard, every day, at it. I practiced and learned from my mistakes. And you? You’ve already got a foot in the door. Stop berating yourself for “less than perfect” study right now. You’re in a totally different phase of life with little ones. Give yourself some leeway.

I am a published author, many times over. In fact, 42 was the year the started it all. My firstborn manuscript came to be that year. I hurdled every possible obstacle to bring it to the public. The writing, the editing, the formatting, delays in printing, events canceled. In fact, nothing really went according to plan. But I still remember how it felt to open that heavy brown box full of books – my books – for the very first time. I felt the texture on the cover and stared at the image, the little boy and the little girl, and I knew it would be life changing. I still receive letters from readers who related in some way to my story. My words resonated with them and made a difference in their lives. That was always the goal. I went on to write even more, vulnerable stories that gutted me to put my characters through such ordeals, but they came out on top. I am now a mentor for other young writers. I guide them through the writing process, the publishing and what worked for me in marketing. I’ve given interviews, done broadcasts, and am very much in the public eye. But I didn’t start with perfection. I started with zero. Level zero. Zero affiliates, sponsors, attention, knowledge. I started with what I had, where I was at. Everybody does. I stopped looking at those next to me and followed God’s guidance to where I needed to be. I made mistakes, lots of them. I lost some money along the way. But in the end, I am exactly at the place where God needed me to be. My advice right now: Enjoy this year. It’s so fleeting. Stop stressing over what you don’t have or don’t know. Your light will bless so many people. That’s exactly why things are hard right now.

I am now a grandmother. Tyson is now almost 42, the age you are now. He has a family of his own and has a successful career working with his hands. He can do anything, really. I’m so proud of him. Remember the late nights spent discussing how to handle everything he threw at us? Everything parent-teacher and IEP meeting? I still get sweaty palms thinking about it. But he’s totally fine. He doesn’t “fit the mold” now and he never will – and that’s a good thing! He’s creative and talented, innovation and energy run through his veins. He’s grown into a good man. Love that teenager! Don’t hold back. Love him, accept him, encourage him, and be on his side. He will do great things. (And sit back and chuckle at his kiddos. They run 150 mph and are just like he was.) Cade and Hudson are in their 30’s. The fighting finally stopped over a decade ago. In fact, they laugh about it now and have apologized to me and each other for being so difficult. I know you don’t want to relish these trying times right now, but you’ll blink, and they’ll be gone. It happened so fast.

My mind is as sharp as it ever was, but my body has taken a beating. My health challenges humble me, helping me to remember that my body is a gift. Someday it will be perfect. I will not have any gray hair or wrinkles. It will not hurt to walk or type. I won’t need treatments or medication. Someday I’ll understand the reasons behind each of these challenges, but for now, I am happy knowing that I’ve done my best. For now, my advice is to appreciate your body. You have a fully functioning, healthy, beautiful body. It’s full of flaws, but it is a miracle. Take care of yourself, mind and body. Listen to what it is telling you. Don’t compete with anyone else. This is YOUR mind and YOUR body. Berating yourself for your flaws makes you miserable. It doesn’t make the flaws go away. Be kind to yourself. That beautiful body is shouldering a lot of responsibility and expectation right now.

Chani, set down your lists. I know it’s what you do. But don’t try to plan every little detail. Go enjoy the moment. Simplify! Pair it down! Make things easier on yourself. Don’t abandon goals, but don’t bury yourself in them either. The world around you will change. Be flexible. Adapt. Just do the best you can and it will be fine. No need to worry so much.

Take heart. You’re doing an amazing job. Stay the course and don’t give up.

Take it from someone who knows you really well.

All my love,

Chani (Future me, 2047)

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